- travel with carlo
grootbos 5* luxury eco nature reserve | south africa - in the heart of the cape floral kingdom
'boasting three times more bio diversity than the amazon'
grootbos 5* eco nature reserve was truly a once in a lifetime experience. how do you define luxury? by the material possessions a person has or the experience one has in life, for me its long been the experience. working in luxury fashion & hospitality for over 10 years i have seen a major shift in clients need for an authentic one of a kind experience & i can happily say that grootbos exceeded my expectations in every way. so let's dive into why this has to be one of the best places to stay on earth!!!
nestled in the hills overlooking a vast landscape of fynbos, beaches, mountains & open ocean it's truly a sight to behold. this place is actually part of national geographic's unique lodges of the world.
this is not just a place where you stay, its a place where you immerse yourself in the landscape that surrounds the lodge, the cape floral kingdom although the smallest of the six kingdoms boast three times more floral biodiversity than the amazon jungle. yes really...
i stayed here for 3 incredible days taking in all this magical place has to offer. from horse riding & nature walks to visiting their very own bee hives where they produce some of the best honey i have tasted in my life.
I have to say the that even though the beehive visit was not part of the official tours list my guide jono organised it as the previous day he found out how passionate i was about honey, this was something truly surprising & elevated the service to the next level beyond a standard 5* resort.
we stayed in the forest lodge (pictured) this more modern style of lodge was perfect for someone younger like me, the design & general atmosphere was special from the moment we stepped through the door when sandi greeted us with a huge smile. so let's talk a little more about the lodge & accommodation.
lodge & suite's
the forest lodge was our home for a few days, its actually separated in to the main building with reception, lobby & restaurant & the rooms which are actually individual suite's that have their own lounge room, balcony, bedroom & what had to be one of the best views from a bathtub in the world.
so let's get on to the finer details of the lodging. my individual suite located right next to the pool but still very private was the finest room of any place i have every stayed, let me elaborate. this is not just a room or a suite it's like having your own home, i could happily live in a space of this size i think it bigger than most apartments in europe. as you enter the suite you step into the lounge with full mini bar (free of course) tastefully designed furniture, widescreen tv with full satellite so no need to worry about missing the game. in the living area you will find the balcony with outdoor shower & sun loungers overlooking the vast area of fynbos.
moving back inside to the bedroom the large king sized bed once again has an uninterrupted view of the fynbos with ocean & mountains in the distance, i had some of the best sleep of my life here as the bed was one of the most comfortable i have stayed in. now we move on the bathroom well its not just a bathroom it's big enough to be a studio apartment in some cities. tastefully decorated with double shower, his & hers basins complete with organic homemade toiletries then the bathtub, not just any bathtub with enough space for two its perfectly placed to relax in with a glass of champagne overlooking the marvellous views of the fynbos & beyond.
on to the main building..... the forest lodge consists of the reception & lobby area with complimentary snack bar with freshly made pastries, coffee machine & homemade juices. the pool area & veranda are adgaisant all once again overlooking the sixth floral kingdom. at the far end of the building, you'll find the restaurant. this is where all meals are located (complimentary of course) from the breakfast buffet in the mornings to a 3-course lunch & 5-course dinner the food here is exquisite this is why i decided to talk in more detail below.
now normally i don't talk so much about the food in places i stay but here the food was at such a high level it deserves to have its own section, so here it is.
so why am i raving about the food? well, it's quite simple its all about quality, creativity also it's sourced locally. we ate 3 meals a day here from the buffet breakfast to the 3-course lunch & 5-course dinner. grootbos tries to use all its own locally grown food from the onsite farm that is producing a myriad of different items from fresh egg's to vegetables, honey & meat. the restaurant has an onsite charcuterie & bakery that produces quality that cannot be bought at a store.
the selection of dishes & wines available are vast from the fish filet to my personal favourite of the roasted lamb shoulder to the more exotic ostrich fillet, every single dish that i had at the restaurant was divine but i have to say i have a special place in my heart for the fynbos honey ice cream, this homemade ice cream created with the honey from the onsite bee hives was my weakness as i had a bowl for lunch & dinner every day. the owner 'michael' believes that the honey must have some special properties & i can see why the bees have a pristine environment here so i can see why he believes it, maybe it has similar properties to manuka honey I'm sure we will find out in the future but as for now i believe this is the best ice cream & honey on the planet.
things to do
so by now your wondering what is there to do while staying here. well then here are my daily excursions that will truly last in my memory forever.
day one... after settling in with lunch & chatting with our guide joni we decided to take the horse riding trip into the surrounding fynbos. now being a total novice & never having ridden a horse before i was a little apprehensive to get in the saddle but wilke our horse trail guide made me feel at easy & after a few moments myself & the horse were wondering through the fynbos. riding a horse for the first time is memorable but riding a horse here is extra special. later in the afternoon, we did the coastal caves & sea walk with our guide joni. we travelled to a nearby nature reserve on the coast to view some prehistoric caves where some of the first nomadic people lived on this coast followed by a glass of champagne on the hilltop watching the sun go down.
day two... after an incredible first impression, the day before i wondered what was in store for me. the day started with a hearty breakfast of eggs benedict & fresh fruit salad washed down with a creamy cappuccino & fresh orange juice.
after breakfast we made our way with joni to the 'grootbos foundation' this is the social enterprise entity of the business & a registered charity. the foundation helps to empower the local communities & has directly helped over 9000 people since its inception. it was great to hear a business such as grootbos is helping support the local community through social initiatives. after our tour of the foundation we made our way to the highest point on the property to view some spectacular vistas of the local landscape & take photos of course.. later that day after a rest by the pool we went out on the forest walk with joni. this 3km walk through the forest & fynbos was very easy & as we climbed higher we were greeted with spectacular views of the hanging mist in the distance, it made for a very eerie experience.
day three... our last day here stated again with a marvellous breakfast this time with the local dish of chakalaka. after mentioning in previous days my passion for bees & honey joni decided to do something very special and organised a trip with the beekeeper to the properties hives. it was something incredible as to me this is beyond 5* experience. we made our way to the hives in our bee suits to view the honey production that the lodge uses exclusively. it was a special experience to see the process behind honey production. an experience that i will never forget.
environmental & community credentials
grootbos has gone beyond simply conserving the pristine cape floral kingdom. they have officially been certified as carbon-negative since 2018. their community foundation empowers the local communities & has directly helped over 9000 people since its inception.
simply put this was one of the most special times that i have had in my 33 years of existence. from the moment of arrival to the moment of departure all the staff made every second here super special. if you are looking for an unforgettable experience then this is the place for you. make sure to request jono as your guide, he made our time at grootbos something special.
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